The problems caused by dog fleas and the best cause of prevention.

 

dog flea

 

The dog flea (Ctenocephalides canis) is a species of flea (Siphonaptera) that dwells primarily on the blood of dogs. The dog flea is troublesome because it can spread Dipylidium caninum. They are commonly found in Europe.

Although they feed on the blood of dogs and cats, they sometimes bite humans. They can live without food for several months, but females must have a blood meal before they can produce eggs. They can deliver about 4000 eggs on the host's fur.The eggs go through four lifecycle stages: embryo, larva, pupa, and imago (adult).This whole life cycle from egg to adult takes from two to three weeks, although this depends on the temperature. It may take longer in cool conditions.


Anatomy

The dog flea's mouthparts are adapted for piercing skin and sucking blood. Dog fleas are external parasites, living by hematophagy off the blood of dogs. The dog often experiences severe itching in all areas where the fleas may reside.

Fleas do not have wings and their hard body is flattened from side-to-side and has hairs and spines, which makes it easy for them to travel through hair. They have relatively long hind legs for jumping.


Signs and symptoms

Flea infestations can be not only annoying for both dogs and humans but also very dangerous.Problems caused by fleas may range from mild to severe itching and discomfort to skin problems and infections. Anemia may also result from flea bites in extreme circumstances. Furthermore, fleas can transmit tapeworms and diseases to pets.

When fleas bite humans they may develop an itching rash with small bumps that may bleed. This rash is usually located on the armpit or fold of a joint such as the elbow, knee, or ankle. When the area is pressed, it turns white.[4]

When dogs are troubled by fleas they scratch and bite themselves especially in areas such as the head, neck, and around the tail. Fleas normally concentrate in such areas. This incessant scratching and biting may cause the dog's skin to become red and inflamed.

Flea allergy dermatitis is developed by those dogs allergic to flea saliva. In this case, the symptoms previously mentioned are more pronounced. Because of compulsive scratching and biting, the dog may lose hair, get bald spots, exhibit hot spots due to extreme irritation, and develop infections that result in smelly skin.



Treatments

To effectively get rid of fleas and flea eggs, one should treat not only dogs but also the household and exterior regions to eliminate eggs from bedding, grass, floor, furniture and other areas.

Treatment should be given as soon as signs of fleas appear and repeated regularly. Delays in treating the infestation may lead to flea-transmitted diseases.

There are many alternative treatments for fleas applied externally or internally to dogs. Many vets advocate chemical products but there is a growing trent to use herbal or homeopathic remedies as an alternative as they offer less side effects to the dog and less risk of alergic reactions by the dog's owners. We would suggest contacting a herbalist or holistic vet for more information about these products.

Maintining a clean sleeping area for your dog is also very advantagious, plus chosing what the bedding is made of, conventional dog beds can become a hatching area for fleas and often difficult to detect, which certain dogbeds like raised dog beds with their mesh tops are a fantastic way to control dof fleas and eggs and are easily washed if there is a risk of the dog carrying fleas or flea eggs.

Evaluations of the toxicity of flea treatment products have been scientifically studied and are available online from the Natural Resource Defense Council [8] and a list of less toxic and alternative treatments can be found in the reference book, Flea Control Secrets which maintains a blog specifically on flea treatment.[9]

Preventing and controlling flea infestations is a multi-step process. Prevention in the case of flea infestations can sometimes be difficult but is the most effective way to ensure the dog will not get re-infected. Controlling flea infestations implies not only that the pet has been cured and the fleas living on it are killed but also that the environment in which the pet lives is free of these parasites. And from all these, removing the fleas from the pet is maybe the easiest and simplest step given the many products especially designed to kill fleas that are available on the market.

Every flea on the pet is likely to have laid eggs in the environment in which the pet lives. Therefore, effective prevention and control of flea infestations implies having removed the fleas from both indoor and outdoor environments, from all pets and also keeping immature forms of fleas from developing.

Removing the flea in indoor environments mainly consists of removing the fleas mechanically. This can be done by a thorough vacuuming, especially in places where fleas are more likely to be found such as below drapes, the place where the pet sleeps and under furniture edges. It is estimated that vacuuming can remove up to 50% of flea eggs. After vacuuming, one is recommended to use an especially designed product to kill the remaining fleas and to stop the development of eggs and larvae. These products are available on the market and may include carpet powders, sprays or foggers which contain adulticides and insect growth regulators.

Preventing flea infestations must include eliminating the parasites from the yard or kennel areas, the two places in which fleas are most likely to occur. Dog houses, patios or porches are some of the outdoor areas in which it is more likely to find fleas and those should be thoroughly cleaned. Fleas can also be carried by wild animals. 

A very important part of flea prevention is to persist with the same control measures for as long as possible. Even though the cleaning process was successful it is very likely that fleas in incipient stages still exist around the house or on the pet. The life cycle of fleas can take up to six months and that is why it is recommended to keep up with the prevention measures for as long as half a year.